If you’re reading this blog sitting on a couch or chair, chances are that product was delivered to a retailer by an OTR driver. Trucks move approximately 70 percent of the United States’ freight by weight and they’re driven by about 3.5 million drivers.
Like other professions, there are stereotypes about truckers that just aren’t true. Some think they’re reckless drivers, while others believe they often drive without enough sleep. In this blog, we’re going to highlight five misconceptions about OTR drivers, and spell out the truth.
Misconception #1 – Being an OTR driver doesn’t pay well.
According to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, drivers of trucks earn an average of 43,680 a year, with the top 10 percent making over $65,260. These numbers don’t include bonuses drivers earn for safe driving and other accomplishments. There’s also job security in the trucking industry. Employment of heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers is projected to grow 6 percent by 2026.
One thing most OTR drivers don’t have is heavy student debt. Recent college graduates have an average student loan balance of over $35,000. Most of that is because the current average for a four-year public college or university is $10,270 and $35,260 for a private institution.
CDL training is necessary for a driving position in trucking. However, most programs only cost between $3,000-$7,000. The fee depends on whether you’re trying to earn a class A or B CDL license and if you want to earn additional endorsements. A majority of CDL training programs last about seven weeks with classes five days per week.
Misconception #2 – The trucking industry is for men only.
There are no limitations for women who want to drive a truck for a living. All you need is the proper training and a commitment to the profession. Pay in the trucking industry is not based on gender.
If you think females don’t make good truckers, think again. Female truckers are three times less likely to get in an accident than male truckers. They’re also four times more likely to pass their CDL certification exam on their first attempt than men.
Misconception #3 – Being an OTR driver is easy.
The legal weight for an eighteen wheeler is 80,000 pounds or 40 tons. Controlling such a heavy vehicle requires substantial upper body strength. So does stopping one quickly.
Some drivers are responsible for loading and unloading their truck. Even those who aren’t must keep their constant attention on the road. In addition to the driving, they must keep a log, communicate with dispatchers and meet customer demands.
Misconception #4 – Drivers of semi-trucks regularly cause accidents.
OTR drivers spend more time on the roadways than most professionals. But, commercial trucks are involved in fewer than 2.4 percent of all motor vehicle accidents. In fact, the American Trucking Associations notes that approximately 80 percent of crashes between cars and trucks are the fault of drivers of passenger vehicles.
Often, drivers of cars brake suddenly, requiring OTR drivers to stop quickly. This is especially difficult with a heavy load. Others change lanes often and without using a turn signal. Some even tailgate a semi, giving them less room on the road. All these things can cause a truck to lose control or be involved in an accident.
OTR drivers are tasked with following traffic laws that are often stricter than those for drivers of passenger vehicles. They must have a clean record, and most undergo regular drug testing. As for safety, truckers are four times more likely to pass inspections than car drivers.
Misconception #5 – OTR drivers aren’t intelligent or cultured.
This age-old myth does a disservice to OTR drivers. Not only are they responsible for delivering products on strict deadlines, they also must do so safely. Plus, they have to know about multiple industry policies and regulations. This requires a reliable person.
OTR drivers come from cities and small towns. They’re all different ages and come from a variety of backgrounds. Some have been driving a truck for years. Others are new to the profession.
One of the perks of being an OTR driver is the opportunity to see sights and meet people across the country. A lot of Americans don’t get this chance. This exposure educates them in ways a textbook can’t. Those who listen to radio programs or audiobooks learn about various topics, both current and historical.